Travelling & Port Macquarie – day 291

The dorm room resembled a poorly made WWII film… 4 Germans, 2 French, 1 Irish and 1 British in a room that looked like a bomb had exploded!! Also, with one of the German ladies snoring like an aircraft, it is a fitting description!! Waking up at 6am, we tiptoed in the semi darkness as if we were trying to navigate a fully loaded mine field – avoiding the masses of strewn around clothing, shoes, shopping bags and rucksacks (what the hell happened here after we fell asleep?!?). Made it out of the room with all our limbs attached and, more importantly, without making a sound before checking out and making our way down the road to the bus station to catch our Greyhound to Port Macquarie. Had a wonderfully cheerful bus driver called ‘Brian’ who admitted himself that he had had a great nights sleep and was full of jokes as he chucked everyone’s luggage in the hold and chatted to all of the 8 passengers onboard (including us) as we waited until 7am when we were officially allowed to set off! The drive was easy – being a Sunday, there was no traffic leaving the city and before we knew it we were storming down the motorway. Clearly, the journey was going much better than Brian had anticipated as we stopped several times en route as we were ahead of schedule and couldn’t arrive at the next stop. Picked up one more passenger in Newcastle, had a thirty minute coffee break (with a cheeky sausage roll) at around 10.30am before continuing on the road.  Not sure what happened but neither my iPhone or iPad would connect to the onboard wifi so Jayne was left with the job of uploading photos to the blog and publishing while I entertained myself with music and reading my book… 

Another break in a town called Toncurry which had a gorgeous inland marine lake where people were fishing, closely watched by a nearby pelican. The water was crystal clear and even from where we stood we saw a puffer fish. I put my toes in the water – it was perfect scuba diving temperature!! Apparently it is possibly to do that there, as is spotting dolphins and whales… Hmmmmmm. Another town on our list for when we visit again. Arrived in Port Macquarie at 14.20 and had a free pick up from the YHA waiting for us. Said goodbye to Brian, who is going to be our bus driver on our journey to Coffs Harbour on Tuesday! Jumped in the van and drove through the streets chatting to the hostel lady (whose cousin is Hagen from House Rules…). Dropped our bags off at the hostel and headed straight out to the koala hospital.The Koala Hospital is not only a Hospital to treat sick and injured koalas but it is also involved in research with University Sydney, University Technology Queensland and the Australian Museum into koala diseases. It consists of a treatment room, 8 Intensive Care Units, 6 outdoor intensive care units and 33 rehabilitation yards, many of which have trees for koalas to learn to climb as part of the rehabilitation process. Between 200 and 250 koalas are admitted through the Hospital annually and apart from Chlamydia, accidents involving vehicles and dog attacks are the most common cause of injuries sustained, predominantly during the breeding season. We were fortunate enough to arrive just after 3pm, in time for their Walk and Talk tour when the koalas were fed and a volunteer explained the issues that brought the koalas into their care. It was really interesting and we learnt lots (especially that koalas don’t get drunk on eucalyptus – they just don’t get enough energy from the leaves to move much!!). Walked around with the volunteer for over an hour as she pointed out the different koalas, explaining there various injuries and whether they were going to be reintroduced into the wild. There are 8 resident koalas at the moment, most of whom are blind, and a rehabilitation area that is not accessible to visitors for obvious reasons.  Having stayed for ages, made a donation and some enquiries about their overseas volunteer programme (http://www.koalahospital.org.au/volunteer/international-volunteer) before we started walking back towards the hostel via Coles to get some supplies for dinner. The rest of the evening was spent with Jayne cooking a delicious peanut curry and me sorting out laundry before snuggling up on the lower bunk bed to watch some episodes of Friends.  

Sunday 24th July 2016

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